During my Von Wong Does Europe tour, I had the chance to meet and shoot the amazing cast and crew of the Underwater Realm. Erwan, my videographer put this amazing behind the scenes video together which goes into great detail documenting all the work that went into creating a few shots and some test video footage.

The idea behind this video was to showcase the crazy amount of work necessary to put together a simple day’s photoshoot. True, the day was also a practice for the crew of the UWR, but rarely do you have the luxury of time especially when it comes down to creative projects.

How I met the UWR

I guess some of you are wondering: How did you even get in contact with the folks over at the Underwater Realm in the first place? Did you guys know each other?

The answer is no. I stumbled on them completely by chance way back in 2011 when DIY Photography featured an article about Making A Non Destructible, Mobile, Power Efficient, Waterproof Kino Flo System and couldn’t help but reach out to them. Much to my surprise they replied.

Holy shit we re so in DAMN  benvonwong gmail com  Gmail

At this point in time, I was still working as a full time mining engineer with no plans of quitting so it seemed like meeting and collaborating with them all the way in London was nothing more than a wistful dream. Somehow though, life brought us together and when I wrote back to him in March 2012, Dave Reynold’s reply was a simple and direct: Let’s do it.

The shoot

Fast forward a couple months and we’re zipping accross Europe a couple days after my shoot with Pyrotechnician Andrey DAS. The travel has been quite hectic all around and there wasn’t very much communication between ourselves and the UWR due to extremely busy schedules and travelling constraints so things had to be finalized quite last minute.

We settled in at RealmHQ (at the time) around 10 PM and Dave and I sat around the living room table and began casually planning the one shot we were really looking to achieve – an underwater behind the scenes photograph worthy of a two page magazine spread. We wanted to create an extremely stylized and dramatic Behind the Scenes image of the cast & crew at work giving a sneak preview at the awesome project that they’re putting together. The image could then be used for a two page spread on a magazine without necessary giving out the plots or storyline.

In sketch?

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Our morning began bright and early as the diving pool was only available from 7 AM to 4 PM. This meant that we would be dealing with an extremely tight schedule. Complex makeup, hair and costumes were going to have to be done on 4 different models, lighting & camera equipment to be set up underwater and the concept smoothed out. This meant a lot of waiting and testing as we dealt with the logistics of dealing with a high end underwater photoshoot. Simple things like swapping out a battery or memory card would take up to 30 minutes!

Since I only had only had small diving strobes with me that was really only designed to shoot small marine animals from very close up, I had no choice but to think of a solution to trigger the strobes on the surface of the water.

Since the camera was going to be stationary on a tripod underwater, I rigged up a small strobe that was suspended directly over the water with the help of a Nasty Clamp and a piece of wood. This way, I would be able to point my underwater strobe vertically upwards to trigger my speedlight, which would then be able to fire across the room to trigger my Linkstar 500 Watt studio strobe … which would then create all the light I would be needing for my shot.

UWR lighting setup
Setup light diagram provided by Sylights.com: http://www.sylights.com/vonwong/6780-uwr

Once all the elements were ready, we barely had any time left in the day. Rather than take the time to shoot each person individually, we decided to do everything all at once, so we had the entire crew of the UWR dive into the pool all at once. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to nail one single shot where everyone was perfect but with a little bit of compositional magic, we managed to pull off the shot that we really wanted to achieve.

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And the final shot:

On top of the shot we wanted to create, I had the opportunity to shoot some additional frames of the actors as they practiced swimming around. This allowed me to make some pretty nifty images that can now be used as promotional material for the Underwater Realm. Though these stories don’t quite exist yet… who knows down the line what crazy projects will result of this endeavour!

Cover art underwater realm

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If you guys enjoyed these photos and videos, I would like to invite you to check out one of the five short videos that the Underwater Realm pulled together:

Also, if you’re looking to try out underwater photography on your own, I’ve taken all my experience from this shoot and a couple others and written out an article that you might enjoy! Click on the banner below to check it out:


Our tour is sponsored by: http://www.slrlounge.com/ and our studio equipment/lighting/equipment sponsored by: Lovinpix


  • Congrats to Ghislain Leduc for winning last weeks bracelet draw!
  • I will be giving a 2.5 day workshop in London, UK on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th of March… if you’re interested, subscribe for my workshop updates and I’ll contact you soon!
  • I’ve been nominated in the [FRAMED] awards as one of the best conceptual photographers! Drop me a vote or two to support me: http://bit.ly/10QntqG
  • I am hard at work on the Von Wong does Europe DVD! There is only one more BTS video remaining and we shall be fulfilling our print commitments!